Holey & Woodhouse Star at Donington Season OpenerSt Cross Electronics Monoposto Championship Round 1 Donington Park 27 April 2013
The 2013 St. Cross Electronics Mono Championship got off to a great start at Donington Park, with packed grids, close and fast racing, and no major incidents.
As the 55+ field assembled at the circuit the gathering Monoposti were faced with some non-trivial logistic challenges. First we shoe-horned almost the entire entry into 18 garages. It was certainly tight but also a welcome shelter from several sharp showers that fell over the weekend. The management required to get 30+ cars assembled in the pit lane was a major challenge for the team of pit lane marshals, who worked hard at it all weekend – on some occasions there were more than 60 Monoposto and GT cars occupying an active pit lane. Then there was timetable which can most kindly be described as idiosyncratic; a state of affairs which had been brought about by a desire to enable people to commute between Donington and the simultaneous F3 Cup event at Silverstone. This wasn’t very convenient for many competitors; fortunately the date clash was a one-off, so the situation won’t arise again.
Saturday Mono 2000/Classic 2000: Qualifying & Race
The action started immediately as the huge Mono 2000 & Mono Classic field emerged into the pitlane for the first qualifying session, with everyone surviving (in some cases just…) the attention of three noise marshalling teams who had to make the best of a less than an ideal situation for all concerned. The session got underway with some very experienced drivers getting the jump on their rivals: Russ Giles, Francis Phillips and Lee Cunningham initially headed the timing screens, the latter two in their Mono Classic 2000 class cars, along with surprise contender Mark Smith in his ex Kevin Mason Dallara, going really well. However as the track got less green mid-session we saw Tony Bishop, Kevan McLurg and Adrian Holey, all in Mono 2000 Dallaras, hit the top of the list in turn; along with Ben Cater, and Mono newcomers Daryl Jones and Bryn Tootell all going very quickly in their Classics.
As the clocks ran out Adrian Holey (Mono 2000 Topmarx Racing Dallara) held overall pole from Russ Giles, with Lee Cunningham (Edginton Racing Van Diemen) at the head of the 20-strong Classic field from Ben Cater. Several fancied runners had encountered problems. Francis Phillips’ superb start ended in tears when the VW in his Reynard seized without any warning; current Champion Malcolm Scott struggled with no clutch on his familiar Dallara, and the two other Topmarx cars of Richard Purcell and Steve Patania had a disaster with neither running cleanly.
There were several completely new faces in the entry as well as the front-running Daryl Jones and Bryn Tootell. Alistair Bell ran well in his ex Lee Bennett Reynard. David Gambling was having his first outing in a gorgeous ex Magic Motorsport Dallara. Dave Gillett produced a very smart Vauxhall Lotus, and Tim Tudor ran in the Swansea Metropolitan Renault which he said ended the session with several “issues”. All these competitors are very welcome to Monoposto; albeit very much in at the deep end at this meeting.
The unusual schedule had the Mono 2000/Classic race before the second Mono grid’s qualifiying session. Adrian Holey launched from pole into a lead he held to the flag, but behind him there was all kinds of action. Ben Cater’s car broke a drive shaft at the start and was lucky not to be hit by the 28 following cars. Kevan McLurg used a good start from 5th on the grid to head the pursuit from Russ Giles and Lee Cunningham, shadowed by Daryl Jones until he pitted on lap 5. On the same lap McLurg suddenly dropped down the order presumably as the result of a moment, leaving Cunningham and Giles between him and Holey, with Tony Bishop’s Dallara in pursuit from 7th on the grid. By this time the odd spot of rain was worsening and the edge was definitely coming off people’s lap times. As the race moved into its second half, McLurg (kicking himself) and Bishop moved up past Giles, although Bishop left it to the very last lap to get by, but none of them could make much impression on Holey and Cunningham, who both took excellent wins. Meanwhile Mike Hatton was having a great run in his ex Richard Purcell Vauxhall, taking a second in the Mono Classics from Bryn Tootell’s Van Diemen. Malcolm Scott had started his clutchless Dallara in the pitlane and fought through to 9th overall, picking up the Driver of the Day award in the process.
At the very bad luck end, the hapless Purcell and Patania pairing’s cars still wouldn’t run properly. Simon Emmerson retired at mid distance, Jim Timms got well stuck in the gravel (thanks to someone else’s mistake – culprit unknown), and Mick Kinghorn incurred official wrath when he tried to visit Jim and his new friend, the live snatch crane.
Saturday Mono Moto/1800/Ztec/1600: Qualifying & Race
Despite the unusually late start to proceedings, any relaxed feelings among the large Moto/1800/Ztec/1600 grid soon evaporated when it became clear that there was a tricky decision to be made about slicks v wets on a dying track. Dan Clowes, Nigel Davers (both Jedis) and Jason Timms (Speads) all opted for wets and ended up in that order on the grid, albeit separated by less than half a second. It was Mono 1600 escapee Davers first championship outing in the Jedi, and an impressive debut in such quick company on an iffy track. Welcome returnee Chris Woodhouse in his familiar red Speads opted for slicks, and was a further two and a half seconds shy as a result, although he stayed ahead of current champion Adrian Wright’s AW3. Next up in the class was a new Jedi-mounted member, Tony Gauntlet with old hand Geoff Fern, and then Stephen Brooks, Len Tuner Geoffrey Cowell and Craig Hurran all taking it more circumspectly in the tricky conditions.
Paul Britten was well ahead of Steven Griffin in the Mono 1800s with Matt Hayes (founder member of the Kawasaki Green Car Club) clear of Marcus Sheard and Douglas McLay in the Ztec class. Mono 1600 was a more complex affair, with Adrian Heath (on wets) turning in a really excellent qualifying run to 9th overall on the grid with a lap fully 6 seconds faster than next up David Parkinson’s Reynard (on slicks), who was in turn only two hundredths of a second ahead of Matthew Walter’s Taylor Wimpey Vauxhall Junior and one tenth ahead of Eddie Guest’s gleaming Lola.
he track was drying out quickly, and towards the end returnee John Rawlings deposited his Speads harmlessly into the gravel, bringing out a red flag and shortening the session by a lap or so, otherwise the guys with the slick choice might well have come out on top!
Come the race the weather was playing the same tricks again; only it looked wetter to start with, got dryer much faster, and then got really dry! How you faired depended strongly on tyre choice, and if it was wets, how long they lasted until melt-down set in. Dan Clowes on wets lead the slick shod Speads of Chris Woodhouse and Jason Timms (on wets) on lap 1, but by lap 3 his tyres had gone and the two Speads were away. The effort had obviously spent Clowes’ tyres, and he was passed by Geoff Fern, who was also wet shod and Antony Gauntlet who was on slicks. Confusingly the latter then pitted with his rear slicks chunking to destruction – presumably some sort of sympathetic reaction to all the ruined wets that were around? Meanwhile at the front Woodhouse had the bit between his teeth and extended his lead over Timms to seventeen seconds by the flag as the tyres on the black Speads cried enough. Stephen Brooks had a strong race, rising to 5th despite his rear wing spontaneously developing a DRS system, which alarmed the watching officials over the last couple of laps. John Rawlings, Len Turner and Geoffrey Cowell all made it to the finish with varying degrees of tyre and resulting wallet damage, but Nigel Davers and Adrian Wright both opted out before the bill got too big.
Paul Britten comfortably took the Mono 1800 class, assisted by surgeon Steven Griffin suffering a major rear suspension failure on the pit straight. This was deftly repaired (I assume with car under anaesthetic) in time for Sunday’s proceedings. Similarly Matt Hayes had a big lead for his Ztec win ahead of the much more closely matched duo of Douglas McLay and Marcus Sheard. In Mono 1600 the very wily David Parkinson made a last second change to slicks (aided by the equally crafty Team Avit) The ensuing dice with a wet shod Adrian Heath lasted most of the race, Parkie finally getting by on lap 9, in the middle of some complicated lappery, with Matthew Walters in third place throughout. Peter Bassills HRT logo’d Mono Ztec disappeared off the charts on lap ten, and Joe Venor had a coil connection come loose on lap one, but continued once this was fixed.
Simon Davey (words and pics) (except for wing pic& caption)
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Len Turner smart new paint scheme
Main in the middle of it
Marcus Sheard's rebuilt Ztec
Mick Kinghorn with Cartek trophy